Thanks to nightclubs such as the Blitz in London and the Rum Runner in Birmingham, the UK music scene of the early 80s was bursting with originality. Giving rise to an eccentric army of Regency-inspired darlings and effeminate provocateurs – often blurring gender lines and championing unusual sounds – the New Romantic scene ushered in a whole new era for British pop. Musically, its figureheads ran the gamut from electro-pop experimentalists to ex-punks embracing bohemian personas, flaunting their eccentric fashion sensibilities and wearing copious amounts of makeup. With a sense of fun and gleeful escapism, then, here is our list of the best New Romantic bands of all time…
Listen to our 80s playlist here, and check out our ten best New Romantic bands, below.
Running out of records to play at the Blitz nightclub in Covent Garden – the epicentre of London’s New Romantic scene – DJ Rusty Egan and the club’s notoriously picky doorman and co-founder, Steve Strange, formed Visage with former punk musician Midge Ure to start making their own songs. An icy musical presence among the best New Romantic bands, Visage paired stoical synths inspired by David Bowie’s 1977 album Low with gloomy, dispassionate vocals.
Introducing audiences to New Romantic styles, Visage singer Steve Strange brought his eccentric fashion-icon status into the pop mainstream with his pastel-white makeup and contoured cheekbones, scoring a UK No.8 hit in 1980 with the electro-futurist single Fade To Grey. Arguably the first New Romantic record of note, Rusty Egan’s then girlfriend, Brigitte Aren, recited French lyrics on the song, though it was Strange’s friend Princess Julia who mimed along in the music video.
Must hear: Fade To Grey